V99For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.. Verse 99For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. is again the strong evidence that Paul, like other Bible writers, always presents the Lord Jesus as the role model especially for all practical issues. In the forgoing verses he presented the Macedonians as role model; but the example of the Lord Jesus Whom he presents now of course outshines all others.
You indeed also do know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t you? The Lord Jesus here is called by His full name. The complete glory of His Person comes to expression in the verse in the middle of the section which speaks about giving. There have been many generous people, but no one has ever given so much as the Lord Jesus.
He was rich. How rich? He is the Creator of heaven and earth. Everything you perceive around belongs to Him. He owns the “world … and all it contains (Psa 50:12b12“If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
; read also the previous verses of this psalm). Innumerable angels serve Him in heaven. At His command they do what they are asked to do (Psa 103:2020Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
). His wisdom is unsearchable and in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.). He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:33And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,). Who could ever estimate how rich the Lord Jesus was?
He renounced all His wealth when He was born as a poor Baby on earth. He was wrapped in swaddling cloth and laid in a feeding trough for animals. Of His wealth and wisdom there was nothing to be seen at that time, although He remained God the Son still in full possession of all divine wealth. He grew up in the most despised part of Israel, Nazareth of which it is said: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:4646Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”). As He went through Israel He had “nowhere to lay His head” (Mt 8:2020Jesus *said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air [have] nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”). He did not possess money. To pay the temple tax He had to order a fish to supply the needed amount (Mt 17:24-2724When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma [tax] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma [tax]?”25He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”26When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.27However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”). If He needed a boat or a donkey He had to borrow (Lk 5:33And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and [began] teaching the people from the boat.; Mt 21:2-32saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied [there] and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.3If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”).
At the cross the soldiers tossed dice for His possessions. All that He had were a few pieces of clothing, probably given to Him by some women (Jn 19:23-2423Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and [also] the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, [to decide] whose it shall be”; [this was] to fulfill the Scripture: “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.”; Lk.8:2-3). Even the grave in which He was laid belonged to another: “And Joseph took the body …, and laid it in his own new tomb” (Mt 27:59-6059And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.). What poverty!
We could guess that the Lord Jesus surely had friends and they could have helped Him to make His poverty bearable. But when it really mattered His friends left Him in the lurch (Mk 14:5050And they all left Him and fled.).
The last thing that still remained (and what remains for every man) was God. Now the real and terrible poverty of the Lord Jesus is clearly shown: even God forsook Him. We did not become rich by the normal poverty of the Lord Jesus. We could become rich only through what the Lord experienced in the three hours of deep darkness on the cross. There you see the absolute depth of His poverty and the deepest bitterness, because then He was forsaken even by His God. There He was made sin and bore your sins in His own body on the tree. God Himself turned against Him and judged Him.
Why did the Lord Jesus want to endure this terrible poverty? That is said in the next part. It was “that you through His poverty might become rich”. He did it all for you who was so incredibly poor – poor through sin. And now you have become so rich, “blessed … with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ” (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,), “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:1717and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] so that we may also be glorified with [Him].), with a dwelling place in the Father’s house (Jn 14:1-31“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.2In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.3If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, [there] you may be also.). They are too many to enumerate and to be listed. You should stop and think for yourself all that you have received thanks to the poverty of the Lord Jesus. Then you will say: ‘What unspeakable riches have I received!’ Against this background will it be difficult to give away some of your material wealth? Surely not.
V10-1210I give [my] opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do [this], but also to desire [to do it].11But now finish doing it also, so that just as [there was] the readiness to desire it, so [there may be] also the completion of it by your ability.12For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what [a person] has, not according to what he does not have.. Paul says it is ‘profitable’ for the Corinthians that he shares his opinion in this way with them. And it is profitable for you also. A year ago the Corinthians began to do something for the poor brethren in Judea. They did not simply do it; they desired to wholeheartedly involve themselves in this act. You can give something without knowing why and what for you do it. But it was not so with the Corinthians. But there was something more: they had to finish their task.
You can have the intention to regularly lay aside a certain amount for the Lord’s work or for someone who has a need. You might make a good start but after some time you can be slack or careless. There could be all sorts of justifiable reasons. At first you are impressed about a certain need. After some time your willingness diminishes and finally it dissipates into nothing and you stop your giving. Therefore you must be reminded of your original plan and of the good start you made.
It is about what you have. Your giving is acceptable if you have the eagerness, the desire to do according to what you have and not according to what you do not have. “Acceptable” means your gift is accepted with great joy. This joy is with God and those who receive your gift.
V1313For [this] is not for the ease of others [and] for your affliction, but by way of equality—. In this passage you are not compelled to give more than what you have. Paul is quite sober. The idea is not that you give beyond your capacity to the welfare of others and then beg for your own needs. No, it is about an equal distribution of possessions. From your wealth you give away the superfluous to others to help meet their basic needs. Then there will be equality.
There must be a difference between us believers and those in the world. The reason for the unequal distribution of wealth among the nations is man’s self-centeredness. While people die of hunger tons of food are destroyed to create an artificial demand and to keep the prices high.
V1414at this present time your abundance [being a supply] for their need, so that their abundance also may become [a supply] for your need, that there may be equality;. Your abundance may serve the lack of your fellow believers. This act of yours will prompt others to stand by you when you are in need. This happens as something normal in the church of God. This equality is not a kind of communism. Communism says that everything that belongs to you also belongs to me. In communism one enriches himself at the cost of others. In the church of God it is the other way round. In the church of God one enriches the other at his own cost saying everything that belongs to me belongs to you also. Think again of the example of the Lord Jesus.
V1515as it is written, “He who [gathered] much did not have too much, and he who [gathered] little had no lack.”. To illustrate the principle of equality Paul points to the example of Israel in the manner they collected the manna in the desert (Exo 16:1818When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat.). Every morning the manna was available in abundance as food for the day. There were Israelites who gathered much and there were those who gathered less. Some collected more than they could eat, while others could use some more. What did they do? Whoever collected more than he could eat, gave the superfluous to him who had less. They shared.
I do not think they shared with the lazy Israelites. Also in our days the word applies: “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2Thes 3:1010For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.). But when someone was not guilty in which he was not able to collect, for instance because of illness or age, it was shared with him. By the way, what would the one who collected too much do with the superfluous? He could not keep it until the next day, because it was then infested with worms.
So consider the abundance that you might have. It is a better spending to give from your wealth instead of spending it for the worthless things which have no lasting value.
Now read 2 Corinthians 8:9-15 again.
Reflection: Do you cooperate to get equality?